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Unsharp Gerrit Cole tosses seven shutout innings in ALCS Game 3

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Gerrit Cole didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday in Game 3 of the ALCS, but he still managed to fire seven shutout innings against the Yankees. The right-hander allowed four hits and five walks while striking out seven on 112 pitches.

Cole found himself in immediate trouble as the Yankees hit back-to-back singles to open the bottom of the first inning after falling behind 1-0. Cole, however, got two quick outs. After walking Gleyber Torres to load the bases, Didi Gregorius grounded out to end the frame.

Wasting opportunities would be a theme for the Yankees throughout the game, as Cole allowed two more base runners in the second inning and neither scored. Two two-out walks were spoiled in the fourth. A two-out double by Edwin Encarnación and a subsequent walk by Torres were wasted in the fifth. Cole put up 1-2-3 innings in the sixth and seventh before hitting the showers.

In his previous two playoff starts, Cole allowed four hits and a walk with 15 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings (ALDS Game 2), and two hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts across eight innings (ALDS Game 5). He hadn’t walked more than two batters in a start since July 27 in St. Louis. Cole hadn’t recorded single-digit strikeouts in a start since striking out four against the Indians on August 1.

The Astros are up 4-0 in the eighth inning, looking poised to take a two games to one series lead over the Yankees.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).